Geneva-The UN refugee chief on Monday lambasted countries which close their doors to desperate migrants and Europe’s “shameful” refusal to allow migrants stranded at sea to disembark quickly.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said migrants and refugees around the world were continuing to take dangerous routes towards safety and opportunity. The solution for their destination countries, Grandi told the opening of the United Nations Refugee Agency’s main annual meeting, “cannot be to close the door”.

“We cannot allow xenophobic reactions, only meant to draw facile consensus and electoral votes, to shape responses to challenges that are complex, but manageable.”

He warned of “the dangerous lines of thinking emerging in some of the world’s richest countries -- ‘externalising’ asylum beyond a country’s borders -- violate international law, put the lives of the most vulnerable in jeopardy and constitute precedents which threaten asylum globally.”

In particular, he highlighted the case of 27 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea for nearly 40 days on a Danish freighter before it was finally permitted to dock in Italy earlier this month.  “States failed to live up to their responsibilities. As a European, I find it shameful that it took more than one month to disembark just 27 people.”

The Italian stressed that “people will continue to flee unless the root causes of their flight are solved.”

“Reducing search and rescue capacity, or impeding those who engage to save others, or pushing back people without due process, will not stop people from moving; it will only lead to more deaths and the further erosion of refugee protection.”